"Pressing for progress – in my career and our workplace – this International Women’s Day"
Below is an article originally written by Katie Brown, Executive, General Manager for the Midwest Great Lakes territory at PowerToFly Partner Avanade, and published on March 3, 2020. Go to Avanade's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Pressing for progress is the perfect theme for International Women's Day because it has so many different meanings. To be a woman and a leader in the tech industry is something that required me to press for progress in my career, but also for many before me to press for progress in the industry. To get to where I am, I had to press. But for women to continue to rise, we all have to press, and we have to create avenues within our system for women to be successful.
My first job out of college was with a consulting company called Software Architects. Even though it had 500 employees in 10 offices across North America, it had a tight-knit family culture. It felt like everyone knew everyone, and we did great work on fun projects. I loved it so much I thought I would retire at the company. But when Software Architects got bought by another, larger consulting firm, that culture evaporated almost immediately, so I went looking to replace what I had experienced before.
A former colleague recommended Avanade to me, and I wasn't sure it would be the right fit because it was another bigger company. But the more I asked around and interviewed, I realized Avanade had that same tight-knit, collaborative feel. When I joined 13 years ago, just a few years out of college, I felt at home.
That open, friendly culture is important to me for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is that it's such a difference-maker for women. I think many women are very caring and personal by nature – we're more likely to talk to people about their personal lives and get to know them on a deeper level. But what I've found at Avanade is everyone – men and women alike – shares that. Other male-dominated tech companies might have a colder culture that keep women from being themselves in the workplace, inhibiting them from doing their best work. At Avanade, I know all about my colleagues' families, hobbies and lives because people feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work.
That same openness has allowed me to feel safe to voice discomfort or concern. I've been here over a decade, and I'm proud to say I can count on one hand the times someone said something that made me second-guess their meaning. But when I have felt uncomfortable as a woman in the workplace, Avanade's culture has empowered me to approach that person directly with my concerns. And we also have structures in place that if a person didn't want to handle it directly, they could report concerns (anonymously or not), or lean on support systems. So many of the barriers women face professionally can be dissolved by a supportive and inclusive culture – something I've seen play out at Avanade again and again.
It blows my mind that I'm 13 years into a career at Avanade and now the territory executive for the Great Lakes. That beginning feels like just yesterday. I had the privilege of being the executive sponsor for the Midwest new hires last July, many of whom were freshly out of college. I told them that when I started, I didn't think of myself as a potential future leader within our business, but that's what each of them is. If they want that, they can make it happen with the support that exists here at Avanade.
And just because Avanade does a good job does not mean there isn't progress to be made. I'm encouraged by the fact that we now differentiate female diversity percentages between internal roles and external, client-facing ones. We are making conscious decisions to recruit and hire diverse talent. I also think about maternity and paternity leave; Avanade doubled those in the U.S. in recent years to create that supportive culture for parents, which also makes us more competitive when recruiting mothers. Equal pay, equal opportunity for hiring, and progressive family leave all help us press forward, understanding that the work is never done and we are so much better for undertaking it.
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As schools across the nation close, and the majority of businesses mandate remote work, working parents are now faced with the ultimate challenge - how to balance their families and jobs under one roof while COVID-19 still remains a concern.
PowerToFly is bringing thought-leading professionals (and working moms!) to speak about balancing our new realities and how to best optimize your time at home. In this panel, we'll discuss maneuvering the difficulties of working from home from taking conference calls to juggle homeschooling/ childcare.
Don't feel the pressure, your children, partner and pets are welcome to join this virtual chat!
Join us for this live Q&A to learn new tips, strategies, and hear personal anecdotes from our panelists that have shaped these women into the incredible founders and mothers they are today. You will have the opportunity to ask questions during our free, virtual conversation and have the chance to snag a giveaway sponsored by PowerToFly and our panelists!
Meet the Panelists:
Christine Michel Carter, Creator of Mompreneur and Me
Featured in The New York Times and The Washington Post, Christine Michel Carter is the #1 global voice for working moms. Christine clarifies misconceptions about working mom consumers for brands and serves as an amplifier of their personal truths.
Mary Beth Ferrante, Co-Founder & CEO of WRK/360
Mary Beth Ferrante is a mom of two and advocate for creating inclusive workplaces for parents. She is the Co-Founder & CEO of WRK/360, a career development platform designed for working parents and managers to help companies support, retain and recruit working parents. In addition, she is a senior contributor for Forbes and her work has been featured in Today, Thrive Global, Working Mother, FairyGodBoss, ScaryMommy, and other leading publishers.
Amy Henderson, Founding CEO of TendLab
Amy Henderson is the founding CEO of TendLab, a consultancy addressing the challenges and opportunities parenthood brings into the workplace. TendLab's research-based approach reveals how parenthood can unlock career-critical skills--such as resiliency, courage, and the ability to collaborate--skills which are especially important during this COVID-19 pandemic.